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In Baltimore for the last 25 years, the Sinai Center for Thrombosis Research and Drug Development has studied how platelets cause blood clotting and has worked to develop life-saving anti-platelet medications.

When the pandemic ended almost all in-person treatment at Sinai Hospital, however, the Sinai Center’s research ground to a halt. Without access to heart disease patients, the center could not test any treatments, and without new funding streams, the center was forced to make new plans.

The Sinai Center team, which is led by Dr. Paul Gurbel, looked at the symptoms of COVID-19. They noted that the inflammation caused by the virus caused some patients’ blood to hyper-coagulate, and they set to work, traveling to the bedsides of hundreds of patients for blood, saliva and urine samples.

By studying these samples, the Sinai Center team found that some patients had genetic or biological differences that contributed to more severe inflammation and clotting issues, and in some cases, instances of long COVID or death.

The team also began researching COVID treatment options, like inhaled aspirin, which can prevent blood clotting, and point of care COVID-antibody testing, even helping the California-based company Nirmidas Biotech conduct clinical studies to gain emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration for its rapid antibody tests, which use a drop of blood or saliva to see if a person has COVID antibodies.

This work led the Sinai Center to better understand how vaccine immunity waned and when booster shots might be needed, and the center believes that in the future rapid antibody tests that tell users their immunity level will be the “gold standard” for determining if a booster shot is needed.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.

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